Sometimes when you are rushing from class to the library, you forget that you are in one of the greatest cities in the world (ranked the fourth most liveable city according to The Economist, no big deal). Let me introduce the Annex—the area just west of Bloor and St. George St. up until Bathurst St. The Annex has a great, laid back atmosphere with many restaurants, bakeries, and cafes that charge at student budget-friendly prices. I spend quite a few of my lunch breaks and long gaps in between my classes there to get away from the consistently tense and stressful atmosphere of campus. Here are some of my favourite places to stop for a break at the Annex.
Cobs isn’t exclusive to the Annex, but having one of the franchises there definitely adds to the awesome-ness of the area. I personally love bread and baked goods, and Cobs does it just right. Their bread is baked fresh everyday and use only the best ingredients—no artificial colours, flavours, or preservatives. Besides traditional Vienna and Farmers loaves, Cobs offers sweet and savoury baked goods like cinnamon rolls, apple and walnut scrolls, and jalapeño twists. When I need a quick pick me up, I always seem to gravitate towards either the chilli or cheese and pesto scrolls.
Futures Bakery and Cafe
If you’ve ever been to the Annex, you’ve probably seen Futures, with it’s blue and yellow exteriors and street art on the walls above it. The joint is split into two sides—on your left you will find a savoury menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and on your right you will find a bakery section with some of the most mouth-watering cakes and pies available in the Annex. Futures has a great student discount where if you show the cashier your student ID, you can get any item on the breakfast menu for $4.99 (usually costs between $5- $8). Some of the items include eggs Florentine and full plates of breakfast with eggs, sausages, pancakes, and home fries. The baked goods are made offsite and shipped to the restaurant daily to ensure freshness. Futures offers classics like apple pie and strawberry cheesecake, but they’ve also got decadent options like butterscotch crunch cake and white chocolate mousse cakes with fresh berries. I definitely recommend the chocolate and banana cake. Best combination ever.
Who says vegan food has to be bland and boring? Fresh has been my current obsession as of late, and I have a good reason for it. Not only have I been on a healthy kick, but the food there is good. Period. Fresh has an impressive vegan menu, ranging from salads, to burgers and wraps to bowls of pasta or rice. There are even gluten-free options which I never thought I’d go for seeing as I love my bread in all of its original glory, but it’s definitely worth a try. My favourites are the barbeque burger (which are topped with the best onion rings I’ve ever had—they’re breaded with quinoa!) and the Energy bowl with soba noodles. Fresh also has an extensive drinks menu with smoothies, power shakes, and even organic, fair trade coffee. If you need an extra shot of something healthy, Fresh offers algae and protein shots, and supplements to give your drink a little boost. Milk thistle supplement anyone?
Aroma Espresso Bar
Move over Starbucks, Aroma Espresso Bar’s got them lining up! Aroma is not just another coffee shop—their retro interiors and signature red leather seats put a spin on an otherwise contemporary coffee joint. Aroma has got a great menu with coffee, tea and food options. I recommend the Affogato, which is espresso topped with vanilla ice cream. Each drink is accompanied by a piece of chocolate with ‘Aroma Espresso Bar’ printed on the wrapper which I think adds a cute, personal touch. I once tried to do a little studying here, but it was too noisy to do so. I do recommend Aroma as a hangout spot though; there are plenty of chairs and tables available unlike the shop’s neighbouring Starbucks.
Overall, I love the Annex and everything it has to offer. The comfortable and relaxed atmosphere will always keep me going back for more.
Do you have any go to eateries around the Annex area? Comment below!